Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Lowell School's campus will be closed through the end of the school year.

Head of School Office Hours: TBA

Community Meeting July 28, 7:00 pm

List of 3 items.

  • Head of School Letter—June 19, Summer Updates

    Dear Lowell Community,
    I hope everyone has had a chance to celebrate the end of the school year and acknowledge all the ways our community stepped up to make it through a school year unlike any other in Lowell’s history. This summer will be unique as well, and I am glad that so many of you were able to join me last night for the Community Meeting to hear about what is on the horizon for Lowell in the coming months.
    At the end of the meeting, there was a queue of 25-30 questions that I was unable to get to. Some of those questions will be answered at our next community meeting, and the rest we will post answers to next week.
    Summer Camp Updates
    This week, Mayor Bowser announced that if all metrics continue trending in a positive direction, the District of Columbia will move into Phase 2 on Monday, June 22. In Phase 2, daytime summer camps are able to open with very specific guidelines designed to mitigate the risk of infection.
    We have been planning for this possibility for a few months, and so I am pleased to share with you that we will be opening our campus for camp on Monday, June 29. We will have measures in place that follow the District of Columbia’s ReOpen guidelines and that support the safety of staff and campers, include controls to limit contact, provide for consistent cleaning and disinfecting, and address potential exposures and positive COVID-19 cases.
    Due to these guidelines, in-person camp will be available in a very limited capacity for rising Kindergarten through rising 6th grade children. The plan is to have three sessions. The first will be two weeks long beginning June 29 and open exclusively to Lowell families and those families who are currently enrolled in our cyber camp. The second session will be three weeks long, and the third session in August will be two weeks long. Look for a communication from Auxiliary Programs with more information about our offerings and registration.
    I want to thank Dawn Smith, our director of Auxiliary Programs, for working tirelessly the past three months attending webinars, listening to press conferences, hunting down hand sanitizer and other hard-to-find supplies, and never giving up hope that we might be able to open camp on campus. It is due to her faith, hard work, and team leadership that we are able to offer a program this summer.
    Reopening Campus and the Work of the Task Force
    While camp is happening, we will be preparing to reopen school after Labor Day with the help of a task force comprised of over 75 members of the community participating in 11 committees. These committees will be coordinated and guided by a management team that includes representatives from each of the subcommittees, as well as the outgoing and incoming board chairs.
    Given the likelihood that the District will be in either Phase 2 or Phase 3 of reopening, the task force will be working towards a plan of action that will allow us to begin the school year with a hybrid model of instruction. This will allow for both in-person and remote learning. The benefits of a blended learning model are that it allows us to keep on-campus groups small and in line with recommendations from government officials, enables us to mitigate the risk of infection, gives families a choice, and keeps learning going for everyone with the use of remote platforms.
    In order to be ready for the new school year, the task force is charged with
    1. Reviewing the research, assumptions, questions, and ideas for each committee’s area of focus;
    2. Creating and collecting data that will inform action steps;
    3. Prioritizing questions and recommending solutions for the management committee;
    4. Identifying action steps in line with public health requirements and recommendations;
    5. Articulating unresolved ambiguities, questions, and decisions to the management team.
    We have already collected a lot of valuable data from the parent surveys and the middle school student survey. But we still need more. You will receive two surveys soon—one regarding technology and one that assesses your level of comfort with sending your child to campus in September.
    To keep lines of communication open, we will continue to follow the decision making of our government and health officials and hold community meetings through the summer to share with you where we are in our planning process. Other opportunities for engagement are in the works, but for now, put these dates on your calendars:
    Community Meetings
    July 28 and August 20
    Last time we met I announced that we are prioritizing the building of connections between teachers and students in the month of August. For your planning purposes, I want you to know that this initiative does not have a start date yet, but would not begin before August 17. 
    Courageous Conversations
    Over the last three months, we have dealt with stress and strain on a daily basis. This pandemic has brought a level of exhaustion, pain, and frustration that for some of us, may be the most significant we have ever experienced. This pandemic has also highlighted the ways in which our country still has a long way to go when acknowledging our racist past and the systemic oppression that pervades every aspect of all our lives. In the last few months, that oppression has significantly impacted Asian and Asian Americans, and people who lack access to healthcare and food. And we have witnessed yet again, our country’s hate towards and implicit bias against Black and Brown people. We continue to see the impact of a system that treats Black people as less than human.
    Lowell is a community that sees and understands this truth. While I know that Lowell is not just about talk, talking and listening are always part of our shared work. I have been thinking about a series of conversations that will allow us to continue acting together to live into Lowell’s commitment to social justice—courageous conversations that are being framed by my interactions with many of you. We are not the kind of institution that rises to the occasion only when something makes the news, but we are the kind of institution that recognizes an opportunity to push the accelerator when necessary, so I encourage you to be on the lookout for more information about these conversations and other opportunities to come together in a renewed commitment to fair and equal treatment for all. 
    While we will always have to rise to meet unexpected challenges, it won’t stop us from continuing to live into our mission and our philosophy. I am looking forward to reconnecting with you later this summer to update you on how we will continue to do both.
    Donna Lindner
    Head of School
  • Head of School Letter—May 29, Community Meeting Highlights

    Dear Lowell Community,
    I am glad that so many of you could join me at last night’s community meeting. Today, I am following up with a few of the highlights and some important information about next year. I also want to thank you for your fantastic response to our recent current and new family surveys. The time and attention you gave to sharing your feedback gave us very helpful data, as well as invaluable insights into how your families experienced remote learning. We have looked at the survey results both in whole and by division, and we are already using the feedback to guide our planning and decision making for next year.
    A strong partnership between the school and parents has always been a hallmark of Lowell, and we greatly value your steadfast engagement with us in these challenging times. As difficult as this moment feels for all of us, I am firm in my belief that there have already been and there will continue to be exciting opportunities for us to further the school’s mission and create deep and meaningful learning experiences for children in this new reality. I look forward to working with Lowell teachers and partnering with you as we venture forth.

    Task Force Work

    As I mentioned last night, I have convened a task force with 12 committees that will be working through the summer on all aspects of campus programming and operations:
    1. Admissions
    2. Auxiliary Programs and Services
    3. Campus Operations and Facilities
    4. Community
    5. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    6. External Communications 
    7. Finance and Legal Issues
    8. Health and Safety
    9. Management Team
    10. Teaching and Learning
    11. Technology Infrastructure
    12. Wellness
    Using the District’s recommendations for reopening and CDC guidelines as the standard of care, their task is to ensure we are ready to begin school with a robust program in September whether we are able to open campus or not.
    In past communications, I have shared three different scenarios for opening in September. All current information suggests a hybrid model, with learning happening on and off campus at the same time. This model will allow us to keep on-campus groups small, mitigate risk of infection, and also keep learning going for everyone by using remote platforms. This is the model the task force will be focusing on and planning for, and I will share more about the task force work at our next community meeting on June 18.

    Contracts and the June 1 Binding Date

    The June 1 binding date for enrollment contracts for the 2020-2021 school year is right around the corner. I understand that this date represents a significant commitment for families, especially with the changes and uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to school and family life. And so, I want to make sure that the terms of the contract are clear so that your family has the information you need as you think about next year.
    If your family must make the difficult decision to withdraw from Lowell, you may do so without any further financial obligation to the school by notifying me in writing on or before June 1. If you make the decision to withdraw your child after June 1, you will be responsible for the 2020-2021 tuition. To be fully transparent, if you decide to withdraw now, we cannot promise that a space for your child or financial aid will be available should you change your mind in the future.
    I recognize that decisions about next year are particularly difficult for those of you who have very young children and because I cannot tell you what next year will look like. Our ability to make decisions about what next year will look like depends on having a clear picture of our enrollment and revenue.
    As announced previously, we will not be charging for next year’s bus service or After Care at this time. Once decisions have been made about what the fall will look like, we will share more about these programs and their cost.
    If you have further questions about the enrollment contract or the June 1 binding date, please call Director of Finance and Operations Chris Ginter for clarification. If you have questions about financial aid, please call Financial Aid Manager Jar Lampard.

    The Start of School

    The 2020-2021 school year will begin as planned after Labor Day. Major dates are already on our online calendar for your review. While school will officially begin in September, teachers will use the month of August to get to know you and your children and to foster connections between students in various cohorts. I look forward to sharing more about the August plan in the weeks to come. The Lowell Parent Community also runs a Buddy Family program for those who are new to our community, and planning for that is underway as well.
    Right now, teachers are focusing on ending the year strong, preparing for conferences, and writing progress reports. This summer, teachers will be planning for the year ahead. By fall they will be ready to teach both on and off campus with a developmentally appropriate curriculum and a stronger sense of what it takes to foster successful learning online in a way that is both true to Lowell’s educational values and also forward thinking. They will also be ready to meet children where they are in their learning through careful assessments at the beginning of the year that will offer a critical input for maximizing learning and engagement.

    Summer Camp

    For those of you making or adjusting summer plans, our summer camp sessions through July 10 will all be virtual. You can find out more about our offerings on the summer camp webpages and at the Virtual Summer Camp Open House on Saturday, June 6 from 11:00 am–1:00 pm.
    The Auxiliary Programs team is closely monitoring DC’s reopening, as well as advice from health officials, and will make a decision about holding camp on campus for the July 13-31 session closer to that time. We are still hoping some version of in-person camp can be held for children ages K–5th grade. 


    Keeping the lines of communication open in the weeks and months ahead is important to me, so between now and the fall there will be more opportunities for us to connect than is usual over the summer. Office hours and community meetings will continue, and I plan to stay in touch via email as well. My hope is that these times will allow me not only to update you on task force work and decisions about next year but also to be present for you because I know how challenging the uncertainties are for all of us. 
    I hope you will join me next Tuesday, June 2 at 7:00 pm for office hours when we will be talking about social-emotional well-being and on June 18 at 7:00 pm for another community meeting.
    As we work through the summer, we will be keeping an eye on the decision making of our government and health officials as we engage deeply and intentionally to take on all aspects of school life so that we re-open stronger and better than ever in a few months. 
    Donna Lindner
    Head of School
  • Head of School Letter—May 26, Pre-Primary School Update

    Dear Pre-Primary School Parents,
    As we come to the end of this school year, I know that some of you are wondering with curiosity and perhaps anxiety about what September will bring for your children’s learning. I imagine that out of the three divisions, you have the most immediate interest in the educational framework for next year. After all, remote learning is least aligned with the developmental ages of our students in the Discovery, Explorers, Voyagers, and Adventurers classrooms. And yet, in the absence of the ability for teachers and students to be in the same place at the same time, remote learning can be a useful tool for meeting the educational goals for students.
    The Teaching and Learning Task Force will have the Pre-Primary student experience as a key focus of their work in the weeks to come. In addition, the teachers, Stefania, and I have already begun to design possible models of instruction for the next school year, which we anticipate will be a blend of on-campus and virtual learning. While I cannot offer you a completed blueprint of what the coming school year will look like for your child, I can share the following guideposts for our decision making:
    The health and safety of our students and teachers is our first priority.
    Our aim with every decision is to mitigate the risks to our community should we return to campus. All scenarios involving a return to Lowell, among other factors, include plans for monitoring the health of those on campus and following social distancing guidelines from government and health officials, including the CDC. In the case of the Pre-Primary division, the guidelines also include those required by the DC Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE).
    We will likely be engaged in remote and on-campus learning off and on next school year, with a possibility that the fall will begin with a hybrid model.
    Last week, Mayor Bowser’s Reopen DC task force made the recommendation that schools not reopen 100% until a vaccine is in circulation. Therefore, our focus at this time is on designing a return-to-school protocol that emphasizes safety and continued social distancing for all ages whether on campus in small groups or at home.
    Our goals for the Pre-Primary School experience continue to be 1) providing continuity of learning, 2) providing continuity of social connection with peers and families, and 3) providing support and coaching for parents.
    These have been consistent goals of our program, and goals that we aim to maintain next year through the continued expertise of our master teachers and outside experts like the Child Development Consultants. We are committed to lessening the impact of the remote learning structure on student learning as much as possible.
    The teachers, Stefania, and I continue to be engaged in learning plan design that is academically and developmentally appropriate for each age level, offers parents increased support and flexibility, and speaks to the social-emotional needs of the age groups in the division. We are brainstorming multiple schedules from which parents can choose, providing options that come closer to matching individual family needs than our current approach. We are beginning to think about units that could be packaged and provided to parents for more effective student learning at home if necessary. We are also thinking about ways to use technology for live interactions with parents and students in ways that are more aligned with developmentally appropriate philosophy and practices. We expect that this work will be formalized and continue throughout the summer.
    Paying tuition for an at-home, Pre-Primary School education feels different for some parents than paying for an on-campus or hybrid experience.
    Lowell has provided the best educational experiences possible for your children under circumstances beyond our control, and your survey feedback acknowledges the extraordinary efforts of our faculty. I will be working with the Board of Trustees and our financial task force in the first weeks of summer to reassess our tuition model for the division, aiming to balance the realities of learning off-campus for Pre-Primary School students and families with the realities of tuition as a necessity for maintaining the ecosystem of Lowell, as well as planning appropriately for Pre-Primary School staffing and programming. Our goal is to announce to you any adjustments we might make by mid-July.
    In spite of the uncertainty ahead for all of us, the quintessential parts of a Lowell experience will continue to ground our program and our school.
    We are an institution made up of authorities in child development who know their craft and your children, value their social-emotional growth, and believe in the power of community and connection. These traits of a Lowell education are the foundation of the student experience in the Pre-Primary School, and I look forward to our partnership with you in providing this experience for your child next year and in the years to come. 
    Donna Lindner
    Head of School

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Lowell School is a private PK-8th grade school located in NW Washington, DC. At Lowell students gain the knowledge, skills, and social-emotional literacy to be the bold leaders and creative problem solvers our world needs.